By Prof. Tony Campbell

THE Penarth-Sully bridge club sessions held on line using Bridge Base Online have been a great success and have kept both clubs active during the pandemic.

Some weeks the hands turn out to be fairly straight forward. But occasionally there is set of hands with amazing distributions making them difficult to bid and play.

Such was the case recently, when one hand turned up that allowed declarer to make a slam because he realised that only a specific distribution would allow him to make the contract.

The Auction

With 18 points West was happy to open one club, as he did not have enough points for a two club opening. East responded with one spade. West then hesitated. It was unlikely that East had a four card heart suit, and with a singleton spade he did not want to play in four spades. Furthermore, he did not want to give the defence any more information about the hands. So, rather rashly West jumped to three no trumps, considering his five card club suit raised his point count to ‘nineteen’. East was conscious that they needed a good score after some poor scoring boards. So, hoping West had a very strong hand East jumped to six no trumps.

The play

North was on lead and decided that the safest lead was the queen of diamonds. When dummy went down West’s heart sank. He could see nine tricks and possibly ten, but there did not appear to be any hope of making the twelve tricks needed to make the slam. However, after some thought West realised that there was just one chance. If South held the ace and queen of clubs and they were distributed 3/3 between North and South, then he could make four club tricks. But, then he saw that there was another problem. Since he needed to lead clubs from dummy twice he would not be able to get back to dummy to make the ace of spades after he had cashed his winning clubs. After another long pause he could see that the only chance was that South held only two spades as well as the ace and queen of clubs. So, declarer won the first trick with dummy’s king of diamonds and followed this with the three of clubs. South played low, and declarer played the jack which won. Declarer then played the king of spades followed by nine of hearts, winning the trick with dummy’s king. He won the next trick with the ace of spades, and then led dummy’s five of clubs. South won this trick with his ace of clubs and having no spades left then led nine of diamonds, declarer winning the trick with his ace. Declarer then played his king of clubs. Phew! The clubs did break 3/3, so he was then able to win the next two tricks with the nine and eight of clubs, followed by the ace, queen and jack of hearts, making twelve tricks – two spades, four hearts, two diamonds and four clubs, for a top score of 1440. Well done for seeing the only chance to make the contract of six no trumps. But very lucky. As I have pointed out before there is only one card game of pure skill – Snap! Lady luck can always play a role in bridge one way or the other.

What have we learnt?

1. Leaping to three no trumps after a response by your partner to your opening bid at the one level is a risk, as he may then decide to take the risk of a slam.

2. Even when the cause seems hopeless, it is always worth taking time as declarer to see if there is a particular distribution that will allow you to make a contract that at first sight looks hopeless.

Penarth club results

Here are the results of last week sessions from the Penarth-Sully online bridge, details and the hands are available on the Penarth Bridge Club web site. Click on Results and then the date. Wednesday 7th July; 1. Judy Collins and Janet Cunnington (82.6%); 2. Irene Thomas and Carolyn Matthews (54.2%); 3. Tisch Beere and Anita Charles (53.5%). Friday 9th July; 1. Tony Disley and John Salibury (66.7%); 2. Peter Millar and Mick Green (612.1); 3. Paul Lamford and Tony Campbell (59.5%); Please contact me or Meryl Skipper if you want to join. Peter Sampson’s highly successful ladder has started again. The current first three positions are: 1. Meryl Skipper and Joy Seculer; 2. Mike Downey and Roy Holloway; 3. Angela Hudson and Carolyn Matthews.

Further information

If you have any views, hands, and information you would like to share, please email me, My articles are available online. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance.